German cardinal stresses Catholic role in toppling Berlin Wall


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COLOGNE, Germany (CNS) -- A German cardinal said various commemorations of the collapse of the Berlin Wall ignore contributions by the Catholic Church. "It is simply untrue, as many critics maintain, that the church was introverted -- just the opposite," said Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, who served as bishop of Berlin 1980-88.

"Throughout these years, Christians formed a living protest against this inhuman system," said the cardinal.

"Yet in the many declarations, speeches, interviews and books appearing for the 20th anniversary, the church's role is being evaluated and covered only very superficially, even by Catholics."

On Nov. 9 Germans will commemorate the 1989 fall of the wall, which divided West Germany from the communist-ruled East Germany for 28 years.

The anniversary will include a "Festival of Freedom" in Berlin, during which 1,000 giant foam dominos will be toppled along the route of the wall.

In an Oct. 26 article in the Die Welt daily, Cardinal Meisner said that under communist rule the Berlin Diocese never adjusted its boundaries, and church officials refused to participate in state ceremonies. Berlin became an archdiocese in 1994.